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COMPOSERS: Maxwell-Davies
ALBUM TITLE: Maxwell-Davies
WORKS: Naxos Quartet No 3; Naxos Quartet No. 4
PERFORMER: Maggini Quartet
CATALOGUE NO: 8.557397
These are the third and fourth in a projected series of ten quartets Peter Maxwell Davies is writing on commission from Naxos. The series got off to a flying start with Nos 1 and 2 (reviewed last November), but about these I wasn’t so sure. The playing here is certainly more convinced and secure than the live premieres seemed to be. And there are some fine things in these quartets, the second of which is based on children’s games, the first of which is a protest against the Iraq war. But they’re a tough and at times arid listen. And try as I might, I found it hard to discern the tonal architecture which Maxwell Davies says underlies the dissonant fabric of the music. The best moments in the quartets were the slow passages, which showed Maxwell Davies has lost none of his gift for spinning a contrapuntal web of tensely dissonant beauty. Ivan Hewett